Monday, August 31, 2015

After the Rain

We've been shrouded in smoke for weeks. The forest fires in eastern Washington and all over Idaho turned the sky to grey, covered our lawn furniture with a layer of fine ash, and left our lungs hurting if we inhaled deeply. Every time the wind shifted, smoke blew into the Spokane valley and lay cozily in the bottom. Some days the smoke looked like fog hovering over the grass. Down by the Spokane River where I live, our beloved mountains to the north, south, and east were invisible.

Then came a wind storm, fierce for half an hour. We folded the patio umbrella to keep it from blowing away. Pine needles and pinecones flew. Small, dry branches rained down. Our summer furniture covered with new debris. The tall trees at the fenceline swayed in a menacing way. My fears of another crash through the roof were renewed.

Then it was quiet. A day later, rain. Blessed rain. The mountains shield us again, with just a hint of the earlier haze. The evening sun can break through the trees. And our sky - our glorious blue sky - became our roof once more.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Friday, August 28, 2015

Spokane Sunset

Dale and I took a ride in the convertible a couple weeks ago, west toward Spokane. 
We were greeted with this. 


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Self Portrait Week 34: Oh, Those Lucious, Lucious Lips

Candy Kisses

 Sexy McSassyfrass

Sweet Lips

  Just Plain Fun

But did you know that not all cultures like to kiss on the lips? Horrors!
I read this article -- and am glad I live in the USA.

Not Everybody Likes Kissing

Kissing is my favorite pastime! (I have a good partner).

  Photo Lessons I Learned:

  • Sometimes you need to use the amenities of a bathroom for a photo shoot, so you must take photos there. But a yellow bathroom can be a nightmare for color balance. I had to fix and fuss with the color in editing.

  • This is how I set up my camera on the bathroom counter. I stood on the other side of the room and leaned over the counter to get in the frame and have a blank wall behind my head.

  • I used the tutorial below as my jumping off point to apply the candy. I learned that using a brush to apply the beads didn't work for me. So I wet my finger, dipped it into the beads, and applied. The water made the color bleed off the candy, so that didn't work either. Finally, I dipped my dry finger into the beads and applied them to the gloss on my lips. That worked like a charm. 


    • It's best over-do putting the beads on your lips. Then use a make-up brush or toothpick to brush the extras away.

    • A purple wig is sometimes the exact right accessory. As is a sense of fun.


    Inspiration from BeautifulYouTV

    Wednesday, August 26, 2015

    Tuesday, August 25, 2015


    The grape hyacinth buds are telling secrets.

    I was trying for a watercolor effect.
    I think it worked.

    Sunday, August 23, 2015

    Saturday, August 22, 2015

    Friday, August 21, 2015

    Self Portrait Week 33: Spooky!

    Here's one last photo from the backlighting session. I like the stark light that landed right on half of my face. I look so startled! I converted the image to black and white to emphasize that lighting.

    With this photo, I'm finally caught up with a photo-per-week in 2015. My timing got out of whack when I was on my road trip.


    Photo Lessons I Learned:

    • The longer a photo session goes on, the harder it is to stay creative. So it's a good idea to arrive at a photo session with several ideas to try.

    • A stark uplight like this put some really nasty dark circles under my eyes. I softened the circles by doing some cloning during editing, but left enough wrinkles that I still look my age.

    • I gave extra whitening to the whites of my eyes so they'd really pop and draw the viewer's eye in. You can see the reflection of the small light I used in catch lights in my eyes.

    • I like imperfection in photos. So I left my birthmark showing on my upper arm.

    • I put a severe crop on the photo to add tension. It gives the illusion that the room is empty and -- boo! -- something startled me.

    Thursday, August 20, 2015

    Coming In For A Landing

    I intended to photograph the sunflowers.

    The bees turned out to be the stars of the show.

    These are the last photos I'll be taking with my Galaxy S4 smartphone. I've been so impressed with the quality of the photos it can take. Time will tell how my new LG G4 will do. It's supposed to be the best smartphone camera ever!

    Tuesday, August 18, 2015

    Hosta Redux

    I can never take too many photos of the hostas in our front yard. The tall flower shoots rise over the leafy base.

    The changing color in the variegated leaves that reflect the dying light, then deepen in the shadows.

    The twin stems that bend toward the evening sun.

    I lie on the ground, pretend to be a bug, and plan my climb.

    Then I snuggle up close and look down the throat of each flower.

    Monday, August 17, 2015

    Self Portrait Week 32: Rockin' It

    Give me some long red hair, put on some tunes, and a whole other side of my personality emerges.

    Rock on, Margaret.
    Rock on!


    Photo Lessons I Learned:

    • This was another attempt at backlighting. This time I added a spot light to the front and right of the subject.
    • I also played with placing a fan in front of the subject to get some action in that long hair.
    • Sometimes the photographer needs to challenge the subject to lose some inhibitions and just go for it, especially at the end of a long photo session.

    Sunday, August 16, 2015


    The oddest details capture my attention.

    Can you figure out what this is?

    Used dryer sheets in a pile of laundry.

    Friday, August 14, 2015

    An Anniversary

    Were Mom and Dad alive, they would be celebrating their 69th wedding anniversary today.

    If Mom and Dad were alive, I'd still be looking to them for advice.

    Thanks for all you taught me through the years.
    I miss you.

    Thursday, August 13, 2015

    Self Portrait Week 31: Conjoined Twins

    Julie and Jeff stopped by our home on Sunday to show us their new car. I talked Julie into posing with me for a self portrait out on our deck. It was very sunny and hot, so we took the photo in the shade of the patio umbrella.

    We were doing a lot of trial and error to get the selfie stick to work, and giggled our way through the process.

    In looking at the photos as we took them, Julie thought I had too much light bouncing off my scalp, so she decided to share some of her hair with me. We look like twins, joined at the head.


    Photo Lessons I Learned:

    • To get my selfie stick to work best, we couldn't telescope it to full length. The pole needs to be short enough that the weight of the camera doesn't cause it to turn while taking the shot.

    • Another selfie stick trick is to use the tilt feature so that the stick doesn't show in the photos.

    • Hold the camera slightly higher than your head.

    • I had to do a lot of cloning in editing to remove a significant amount of glare from our glasses. Tricky business, that. It doesn't look too bad at this low resolution, but I need to sharpen my skills to make my editing better for highres photos.

    • It's fun to take photos with my daughters. Find ways to urge them to come for a visit more often!

    Wednesday, August 12, 2015

    It's Bloomin' Hot Today!

    On days like this in August when the temperature is predicted to rise to 100°, I dream of the gentle Spring morning when I captured this beauty.

    Tuesday, August 11, 2015

    On the Flip Side

    Arrowleaf balsamroot grows wild in our neighborhood park in the spring. Their sunny faces bring color into the forest shade. I like the look of their fuzzy stems.

    Monday, August 10, 2015


    I captured this maple spray last October. It won't be long now before the leaves morph this year.

    Sunday, August 9, 2015

    Self Portrait Week 30: Morning Tea


    Photo Lessons I Learned:

    This week I played with back lighting to see if I could get a silhouette. I tacked a sheer curtain over an east-facing window. I set my camera on a tripod in a low position, about a foot and a half off the floor. Getting the angles to work on this photo was particularly difficult. 

    I like how there is a little color showing in the carpet, but most of the remaining photo is shades of gray.

    Saturday, August 8, 2015

    Welcome Home

    When I walked in the door after my two week trip, this was waiting for me.

    So, so pretty. 'Twas just a portion of the love shown to me upon my return.

    ❤   Dale

    Friday, August 7, 2015


    My daughter Jodie's partner, collaborator, gaming buddy, and all around good guy. They're only 22 years old, and have already been together for a third of their lives! This is one of the best photos I've ever captured of him.

    Graduation Day, May 2015

    Thursday, August 6, 2015

    Arboretum - Shady, Prickly & "Purdy"

    This final set of photos from the arboretum takes in more plant diversity.

    From the bamboo

    To the cacti

    To the most brilliant flowers among the ferns

    Oh, I'll miss these gems as I settle back into Idaho life.

    Wednesday, August 5, 2015

    Arboretum - Critters

    Not only are the plants in southern California different from north Idaho, but so are the animals.

    Here's one of the koi and a turtle swimming just under the surface of the pond. I think they're sharing secrets. "Watch out. There's another one of those humans with a camera. Hope she doesn't fall in our home."

    Some teenage kids were horsing around the water's edge and one took a spill.

    On the path out of the arboretum, this colorful lad was sunning himself. It had been years since I saw a lizard skitter up a wall.

    I wasn't in Kansas (er ... Idaho) any more!

    Tuesday, August 4, 2015

    Arboretum - Pinks and Purples

    It was so great getting to see flowers in Fullerton, California that I don't get to see in Post Falls, Idaho.

    The jacaranda was my favorite tree when I was growing up. They formed a floral canopy along a full block. I got to walk through that magical forest walking to and from school. The buds that dropped would pop underfoot.

    One end of the pond was covered in water lilies. Koi and turtles swam just beneath the surface.

    Then, in the shadows, these striped beauties bloomed.

    Monday, August 3, 2015

    At the Arboretum

    I had a chance to go to my hometown of Fullerton, California for a week in July. I took one afternoon to visit the local arboretum to take some photos of the plants and flowers. That's when I came upon this pretty sight.

    This young couple was so beautiful in the filtered light, in this setting. I approached them to ask if they'd like me to email them a copy of the photo. We had a sweet and light-hearted conversation in which I learned that Nicole is from Switzerland. We found a connection in that my last name is also Swiss.

    It turns out that Nicole and Boris were on a first date, sharing lunch in this beautiful setting. After exchanging contact information I asked if they'd like a close-up photo as well. These were their first photos together.

    I feel honored to have been at the right place, at the right time, with the right amount of spunk and daring as a photographer to photograph strangers ... who have now become my friends.

    Photos used with permission of Nicole McLaren and Boris Mamlyuk